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NCMA gives us the exclusive on its new commissioned children’s book, The Museum Lives in Me.
As a kid, there was nothing more exciting than going on a school field trip—getting out of class; the wonder of a new, unfamiliar place; an interactive learning experience. … Channeling that excitement in book form is the NCMA, commissioning Victoria Scott-Miller, owner of Liberation Station Bookstore, to create a children’s book about the museum’s People’s Collection—NC’s state art collection.
Titled The Museum Lives in Me, the book—illustrated by Raleigh-based artist JP Jermaine Powell and set to be released May 21—showcases the discovery of the collection by a group of students on a field trip, highlighting their meaningful connections to art.
With every turn of the page, teacher Miss Edmonia—which Scott-Miller named after Edmonia “Wildfire Lewis,” the first professional African American and Native American sculptor—helps children discover and interact with well-known pieces from the People’s Collection, including Mickalene Thomas’ Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires, Romare Bearden’s New Orleans: Ragging Home and Yayoi Kusama’s LIGHT OF LIFE.
“This beautiful story highlights the joy and understanding that art can bring to everyone, particularly children,” says Museum Director Valerie Hillings.
An homage to Black women, many of the students are also named after lesser-known Black female artists, like student Kara-Clementine, whose namesakes are artists Kara Walker and Clementine Hunter. “We talk about the artwork—but not the artists,” explains Scott-Miller. “I wanted to make sure the names were called.”
Powell, who worked closely with Scott-Miller on both the story and the illustrations, says that they spent a lot of time revisiting their pasts, exchanging stories and “coming up with great experiences to make the characters come alive and feel authentic.”
Ultimately, the pair hopes the book illustrates for both adults and children how fascinating the museum really is while helping teach them to take inventory of their own inner exhibits worth discovering and celebrating, says Scott-Miller. “You don’t necessarily have to be in the museum to be part of the museum,” Powell adds. But through The Museum Lives in Me, you can be a part of its story. Available at Museum Store, and Black-owned and independent bookstores nationwide, including Liberation Station Bookstore
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